On uncharted waters, Mattias Kvick

Something you don’t always think about is that it takes courage to develop and move forward in your creative process. You could think that it’s just writing, or drawing what you want. Imagination knows no boundaries, right?

The strange thing is that even our creation is surrounded by boundaries. Imagination itself may be limitless, but our existence is constantly limited by unwritten norms and rules about what is right and what is wrong. Even when we create freely. What can I write? How can I write? How can I sign? Can I draw ugly?

When the artist and my friend Rebecca Jansson had an opening at KHM1 Gallery in Malmö last Friday, she exhibited, among other things, a series of drawings consisting of small letters in pencil on large sheets of paper. On one of the sheets, she had only drawn a small, solitary “z” in the middle of the large surface. The letters on the sheets of paper, which were taken from a letter exchange across the Atlantic, formed like flocks of birds on the white surfaces. The work seemed to grow and branch out into its world of words, communication, distance, relationships, and the flight of birds over an endless sea. The lonely sign “z” became a point on the horizon, or perhaps a lonely bird in the sky.

But no one should believe anything other than that it took a lot of courage for Rebecca to exhibit a lone “z” at the gallery. In comparison, it can be said that it takes very little courage to exhibit a painting of a landscape. We already know that most people will probably like the painting, or possibly find it uninteresting. In other words, it’s pretty harmless, and it’s definitely within the realm of what I “get” and what I’m expected to do. But by exhibiting a lone “z”, Rebecca has left the safe and well-known zone.

When I write, I have to relate to this. And I sometimes have to find the courage to dare to leave the safe and secure zone. I have to become aware of the difference between writing what is expected of me and writing what I want to write. I sometimes have to venture out into unknown waters and set the sail upside down.

In Susanne Osten’s fantastic film The Mozart Brothers, the director of the opera at one point says something like To do what is expected of us is to renounce large parts of ourselves.

That’s exactly how it is.

Mattias Kvick is an Author and Illustrator